Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Your Characters Speak Your Language


  
One of the most difficult accomplishments in writing is to get a certain character’s dialect and accent correct.
When you include foreign characters in your story, it’s imperative that your reader know they have an accent relative to the country or locale from which they hail.
Be attentive to these nuances or all your characters will sound like you. An author who is not a linguist or grammarian may have a certain limited capability at using the English language. Without expanding your knowledge or simply using a Thesaurus, you will find yourself repeating the same words and phrases over and over.
Let’s take the example of a foreign accent. Your character’s manner of speech will be greatly affected by the way you describe that person and the nuances of the country of their birth. Say you’ve set up your character as being from France. Maybe he dresses in fine French clothes, is real dapper and has European table manners. Beyond that, have him use French phrases like mon cherie in the course of his dialogue.
Foreign phrases you attach to your character should be fairly well known to the general public. These phrases both immediately give the reader the character’s flavor of speech; it also lets the reader skim smoothly over the foreign phrase by imagining an accent, and stay in the story.
Including a phrase that not too many people have heard makes the reader pause to try to understand. That is something you do not want to happen.
When writing in English, the author must still assure that all characters have their own manner of speaking.
A cowboy has a laid-back southern drawl, as in “I ain’t into office work,  ma’am. I ride horses.” Can you hear him speak?
The African man who made it to the Olympics has an Nigerian accent that no one understands. Yet, when he’s marching with all the other athletes, carrying his country’s flag and yells his country’s motto while pumping a fist into the air, we know exactly what he means.
The Latino from south of the border speaks broken English interspersed with his home area colloquialisms and politely calls women Senora or Senorita.
These are but a few examples of unique characters who must sound different. Each would be enhanced by the way the author introduces them into the story.
The cowboy always wears boots, even with a tuxedo.
The African man plays his drums because he misses home, but doesn’t want to miss a chance at the Olympics either.
The Latino does his own cooking because he can’t get real authentic south-of-the-border cooking at a restaurant.
When you develop your characters well, many times, even their simplest conversations will appear to the reader as being spoken with some sort of accent or brogue.

Never overlook that once you set up the special characters that people your story, their dialogue must follow suit. You must set your characters apart, not only in mannerisms and such, but in their dialogues. Otherwise all your characters will sound like you, the author, and will speak the same language as you.


Mary Deal

Author, Painter, Photographer
Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)
Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee
2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist
Global eBook Awards Bronze
Global eBook Awards Silver
Art Gallery: http://www.MaryDealFineArt.com
Gift Gallery: zazzle.com/IslandImageGallery*


Friday, July 14, 2017

Author Intrusion




Author intrusion is something I saw a bit of in new writers’ manuscripts when I did a lot of editing.

A story is usually told through the mind of one or more characters. It’s known as the story’s point of view (POV). (Also see the article Choosing a Point of View above in The Parts) The reader is only allowed to know what the point of view character perceives and experiences internally.

Here’s a correct sentence written through a character’s mind, told in 3rd Person POV:

~ Sara watched with nerves on edge, unsure of what she was seeing.

Now told using author intrusion:

~ If we look at Sara, we see that she is hesitant about getting involved.

In the 3rd Person POV, we are in Sara’s mind experiencing hesitation with her.
In the author intrusion example, the author stopped the story to speak directly to the reader, telling the reader what Sara experiences, instead of letting the reader be Sara.
In the past, many stories were told in this manner. The author seemed to speak directly to the reader, or as if the writer were addressing a group of people. This method of storytelling has become passé. Readers want to become their favorite characters and experience with them and not simply be told by a narrator.
Author intrusion is easily avoided if the writer stays in the mind of the point of view character. The character will not stop the story to speak to the readers.


Mary Deal

Author, Painter, Photographer
Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)
Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee
2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist
Global eBook Awards Bronze
Global eBook Awards Silver
Art Gallery: http://www.MaryDealFineArt.com
Gift Gallery: zazzle.com/IslandImageGallery*



Sunday, July 9, 2017

DAMSELFLIES AND DRAGONFLIES


 
A dragonfly
rests upon a wooden dock
in restive purple sunlight.
Gossamer wings
spread out in beauty.
A damsel-flies by,
perches nearby,
wings folded.


 by

Patricia Crandall 

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Letter S by Mary Deal



Drop the letter s. If you believe that one letter couldn’t possibly cause you to receive a rejection, I encourage you to think again, especially if the same mistake recurs throughout your manuscript.

Incorrect usage comes from the lax attitude about our English language. Most people speak in jargon or a brogue that comes from a certain locale. I call it family hand-me-down language.  Truth is, no matter from where you hail, your written grammar must be correct for the broader reading audience.

I’m speaking of the letter s. Check out these sentences:
She ran towards the garage.
The ball rolled backwards.
Look upwards.

These sentences are all incorrect. That is, the use of the letter s is incorrect.
The letter s denotes something plural. In the first sentence, moving toward something means you can only go in one direction. Toward.

If the ball rolled backward, it can only go in one direction. Backward.
To look upward, you can only look in one direction. Upward.
Not surprising, an example of an exception is:
She leaned sideways.

The rule here is that when leaning, you can lean sideways in more than one direction, therefore the use of the letter s.

You’ll find many other words that are incorrectly used with s endings. When you find these, make note of them, maybe a running list. You’ll have the list to refer back to when you question your own writing.

This is but one of the finite idiosyncrasies of producing better grammar when writing stories and books that you hope to sell. Study your own language and speech.

Watch how the s is used or omitted in books that you love to read.


Get into the habit of listening to the speech patterns of others. Think critically of what you hear, but never criticize of a person who speaks that way. Instead, mentally analyze what you have heard. Learn the right from the wrong of speech and your writing will reflect your knowledge.


Mary Deal

Author, Painter, Photographer
Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)
Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee
2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist
Global eBook Awards Bronze
Global eBook Awards Silver
Art Gallery: http://www.MaryDealFineArt.com
Gift Gallery: zazzle.com/IslandImageGallery*




Thursday, June 8, 2017

A WRITER’S FANFARE by Patricia Crandall

In the nineteen fifties, my interest was captured by the Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene. Each holiday I would request the latest Nancy Drew title and on receiving it I would curl-up in an over-sized chair and begin reading the fast-paced adventure.
            Whereby, I dabbled at creating my own mystery stories at an early age. My first effort detailed a long, frightening chase by a sinister man. A dark tunnel appeared, leading to (of course) a haunted mansion. The not-so-brilliant ending had me saved by the man of my life at the time – my father.
            My parents and teachers would often tell me, “Patty, you are a dreamer. You have a vivid imagination. Put it to good use.” It was at that point, in lieu of playing with friends or watching the new small-box-wonder – TV, I sat at an old desk in the kitchen and wrote mystery stories. I also drew stick figures to illustrate the action in the stories. The discovery of boys replaced pen and paper. The telephone became my favorite instrument and I lost interest in reading and writing until a formidable nun taught me English in High School. With a revival of interest, I picked up where I left off, writing saleable poetry and a variety of articles, essays, and short stories. Presently, I am taking a writing course and penning novels.

            Ironically, my mainstream stories have brought me the most success and recognition. I have often wondered, why? I have discovered that although I like to create a good mystery story, I shy from describing extreme violence or gratuitous sex and the uncanny evil bred in psychological serial killers who torture, maim and murder their victims. I prefer to write cozy mystery stories.
            Two favorite characters I have created for general entertainment are Gert Carver and Nina Westacott. Friends for many years, the two women pursue bottle mining and flea market quests. I was fortunate to have a close relationship with two aunts. The idea came to mind to express how their uniqueness affected me as a child. I wished to pass the essence of their warm and zany personalities on to others and I fictionalized them.
*
            In writing mystery stories, I am determined to have justice served. My recent sojourn to the Rensselaer County Courthouse for jury selection impressed me that perpetrators have more rights than victims. It confirmed what I already knew; people are victimized once during the actual crime and once during the detailing of the sordid events leading to the crime at the trial. Can anyone blame a person who refuses to go through a debilitating trial? Hence, the perpetrator gets away with a plea bargain or less and walks away a free man. Often, he/she commits a similar crime. I would like to shadow dedicated professionals and put into writing the need for more honesty and integrity in the justice system.
            Ideas for a writer’s fanfare are everywhere. Newspapers are a good source for material. Headline – Pregnant wife and Baby Survive Murder Plot. What if…?
           
Patricia Crandall
 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Bequest (a poem) by Patricia Crandall


I bequeath to you
grandson
my cottage on Pine Lake.
Being city bred
you never came
to spend a day with me
among my rustic treasures.
I always sought you out
surrounded by electric life.
As grown-up you did come
to collect your inheritance;
came alone and sat
upon a sagging dock
watching children tumble
upon black tubes,
splashing, laughing.
A swimmer's white arms
flashed out of blue waters
pulling toward shoreline.
Sailboats were sailing
rowboats drifting
waves gently wafting
shore-birds fluttering
blueberry bushes drooping
ripe for plucking.
Gray squirrels scattered nuts
from tree limb to tree limb
and you thought only they
heard what you murmured:
"I know now who you were
Grandpa
and who I am going to be."

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

WILD GEESE (a poem) by Patricia Crandall


                                                        they        station
                                                         how          their
                                                         is                beckoning
                                                    formation        call
                                                     vee                     is
                                                       a                      heard
                                                     sky                      by
                                                     April                    us
                                                     an                          all
                                                     in                            now
                                                    fly                             comes
                                                  geese                            the
                                                 wild                                quest
                                                                                            where
                                                                                                will
                                                                                                  they
                                                                                                      rest

Your Characters Speak Your Language

    One of the most difficult accomplishments in writing is to get a certain character’s dialect and accent correct. When you include...